Harbaugh, Carroll invoke Willie Mays to Bay Area media

Harbaugh praises Wilson, compares Earl Thomas to Willie Mays

Harbaugh, Carroll invoke Willie Mays to Bay Area media
December 5, 2013, 8:45 am
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Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays was Rookie of the Year, a two-time MVP, a 20-time All-Star, and a 12-time Gold Glover in 22 MLB seasons. (AP)

SANTA CLARA -- Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll had the “Say Hey Kid” on their minds during their respective press briefings with the Bay Area media on Wednesday.

The rival coaches who lead the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks into Sunday’s game at Candlestick Park both invoked the name of Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Mays.

Harbaugh compared the skillset of Seahawks safety Earl Thomas to the great center fielder: “He’s like Willie Mays. He’s a five-tool player. He can do it all.”

And a short time later on a conference call with Bay Area reporters, Carroll spoke about his memories of Candlestick Park. Carroll, who attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, attended Giants baseball games as a youngster. This figures to be the final time Carroll will be at Candlestick Park before the stadium is razed after the season.

“My memories go all the way back to watching Willie Mays and getting to The ‘Stick early to watch him play catch when he was warming up,” Carroll said. “So I go all the way back to the baseball days.”

Carroll was the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive backs coach in 1987 for an upset victory over the 49ers at Candlestick Park. He called that game his “favorite memory” of the 'Stick.

As a head coach, Carroll is 0-4 at Candlestick while with the Seahawks. His teams never came to Candlestick when he coached the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

He expects the crowd at Candlestick to be energized for Sunday’s matchup.

“When the fans are fired up, they go for it,” Carroll said. “It’s got its own way about it -- it’s own style. It’s classic. I feel like I grew up kind of feeling it. I’m real comfortable taking our team in there. It doesn’t mean their fans aren’t going to go crazy and do everything they can to give their team every advantage. I understand they’ve already been asking for that.”

[RELATED: 49ers ask fans for 'Red Sunday' at Candlestick]